Keeping the vehicle’s tires properly maintained is easy, but it’s actually very important for the passengers’ safety and comfort. It also contributes to savings on fuel and untimely costs on replacement of worn-out tires.
To keep tires in top condition, a tire pressure gauge should be used to check the air pressure within each tire. It should be done regularly once a month or every time the vehicle’s gas tank is filled up. And tire pressure should definitely be checked before going on any long trip. Before checking the tire pressure, keep the vehicle parked for three or more hours to keep the tires cool to get an accurate reading. A hot tire will indicate a higher tire pressure than a cooler one.
It is highly advisable to use a tire pressure gauge with a wider range. It can be used with a variety of vehicle types. Good scale visibility and readability also make up the most accurate tire pressure gauge. These are the qualities that are mostly looked for in tire pressure gauges by people who maintain their own vehicle.
There are four types of tire pressure gauges, namely; Analog, Digital and Stick which is also known as Pencil type. All of these gauges are easy to use and can be found in local automotive parts stores, big-box stores, and are of course available online.
Stick (or Pencil) Type Gauge
The Stick – or Pencil – type gauge resembles a pen. Inside is a scaled shaft that slides out when the tire pressure is being read. The air from the air valve of the tire pushes the shaft out and should be held by the thumb when making a reading. They are very simple, compact and affordable. It can fit within any nook and cranny of your vehicle.
They are less likely to be accurate and can be tricky to read to an untrained eye.
Analog Tire Pressure Gauge
Analog, or Dial type, pressure gauges are characterized by an analog dial, which resembles a face of a clock. It has a simple needle and scales to indicate the pressure. An extension air hose is provided on some gauges of this type as well as air pressure release valves. Some have dual scale dials to indicate both metric and imperial units of scale.
Pocket-type dial gauges are handy and weigh less but do not come with accessories, while gauges with extension hoses are bulky and need both hands to operate. Interestingly, these gauges are not found to be the most accurate, but they are more accurate than stick gauges. Analog gauges are also pretty easy to read but some interpretation is necessary when the needle points between numbers.
These gauges mainly use calibrated springs, which are sensitive to considerable shock. For example, dropping the gauge from a height 30″ to the floor will likely render it unusable.
Digital Tire Pressure Gauge
Digital-type tire pressure gauges have an electronic LCD display, which like an LCD watch or a calculator are easier to read. They are also resistant to damage caused by dust, moisture, and dirt. Some of these gauges are equipped with a backlight, which comes in handy when checking your tire pressure at night or dimly lit areas.
Even though the battery lasts for years, these gauges require one (or more) and may need regular replacement. These gauges tend to be the most accurate and the easiest to use. It relies on an electronic pressure sensor, which sends the measurement to the LCD display.
Proper tire pressure makes for a safe, comfortable, and worry-free ride. The vehicle’s tire pressure should be properly maintained and regularly checked to ensure that the vehicle is always in top condition. Securing a reliable and accurate tire pressure gauge is a must.
Tire gauges are made for a reason. Most often they are an overlooked item and not found in the standard tool kit that comes with the vehicle. It’s best to keep one that is accurate. This is because tire pressure gauges that are provided with the tire inflation machines found at gas stations are hardly maintained or calibrated often enough to be trusted. These are highly likely to not give accurate readings.
It’s best to get at least two of the three tire pressure gauge types and make sure to compare the readings and decide which is the most accurate. Make at least three consecutive readings for each type and select the type which has the least bit of difference between readings. This type will be the most accurate tire pressure gauge among your choices.
Also, make sure that the rating of the tire pressure gauge corresponds or exceeds the maximum rating indicated on the sidewall of the tires. Keep in mind to also have at least one tire pressure gauge inside the vehicle and one in your garage, shed or other storage area.